Uyghur Exile Group Leader Turned Back Trying to Enter Turkey

Turkey’s travel ban on World Uyghur Congress President Dolkun Isa had been lifted this month.
Uyghur Exile Group Leader Turned Back Trying to Enter Turkey Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, poses at a United States-backed Uyghur photo exhibit of dozens of people who are missing or alleged to be held in Chinese-run camps in Xinjiang, China in front of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 16, 2021.

Dolkun Isa, the president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress exile group, has been turned away at the airport in the Turkish capital Ankara and flown back to Germany Monday, two weeks after he learned that a travel ban against him had been lifted, he and his lawyer said.

The Ankara Administrative Court on Sept. 1 delivered a judgement lifting a travel ban on Isa that kept him from visiting Turkey since 2008, a decision that Turkish immigration authorities accepted and relayed to Isa’s lawyer, Ilyas Dogan, on Sept. 6, Dogun said.

“Dolkun Isa came to Turkey to visit Erkin Alptekin, the former president of the World Uyghur Congress, who is currently in hospital in Ankara. Unfortunately, passport check police at the airport in Ankara did not allow him to enter Turkey. Mr. Isa was returned to Germany,” he told reporters at the capital’s Ankara Esenboga Airport.

Dogun, a law professor at Hacı Bayram University in Ankara, said that just days after the previous ban was lifted, the Turkish Interior Ministry imposed a second blacklist  notice on Isa’s name on Sept. 6.

“The Turkish government has acted shamefully. From this, we can see that the decisions made by the courts in Turkey have no effect. The ban on Mr. Isa is against Turkish law and illegal, so we will sue the Turkish government,” he said.

In a statement issued by the WUC, Isa said he is “deeply disheartened to see that the Turkish authorities are still refusing me entry, despite my ban being lifted by the Ankara Administrative Court.”

I have once again been unjustly denied entry by the Turkish authorities for something I have never done,” added Isa, who had earned a masters degree in political science in Turkey in the mid-1990s before getting political asylum in Germany.

“Since 2008, Mr. Isa has been denied entry to Turkey on allegations of threats against national security,” the WUC said.

He had been denied entry to Turkey in August 2008 and October 2011, and was under a Red Notice issued by INTERPOL at the request of the Chinese government from 1997-2018, the group said.

“Mr. Isa has been falsely accused of posing threats against national security in Turkey," said the WUC.

“The WUC reiterates once again that Turkey and the international community diligently scrutinize political requests sent by the Chinese government instead of accepting them without any due process of law or evidence,” it said.

Turkey is home to an estimated 50,000 Uyghurs, who share linguistic and cultural ties with the Mediterranean country.

Last week, Isa opened a “Wall of the Disappeared” exhibition outside the U.N. in Geneva with images of Uyghurs who are missing and believed to be held in internment camps in Xinjiang.

“We at the World Uyghur Congress aim to counter China’s propaganda and disinformation campaign at the U.N. by hosting our own exhibitions with facts and truth of Chinese atrocities,” said Isa, whose mother died at 78 in a Xinjiang internment camp in May 2018 after serving a year for “religious extremism.”

 Reported and translated by Alim Seytoff and Mamatjan Juma for RFA's Uyghur Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.